ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf


358. Roger Marston. -- The English Franciscan, ROGER MARSTON (or MERSTON), who followed Peckham's lectures at Paris and taught at Oxford in the second half of the thirteenth century, bases his ideological teaching on the identification of God with the intellectus agens.{1} Some of his contentions are characteristic and deserve to be noticed. I know well, he writes, that my contradictors, intoxicated by the nectar of philosophy (philosophico nectare inebriati), interpret the Divine illumination of which St. Augustine speaks, as signifying a mere resemblance between our created intelligences and the Increated Light, just as a copy is the imitation of its model. But this is perverting the meaning (perverterunt) of St. Augustine. If he meant nothing more than this, his reasoning would have no point.{2} The active intellect is not a lumen creatum, distinct, although derived, from the Lux Increata (St. Thomas, etc.), it is the Lux Increata itself. "Anima actum intelligendi non elicit formaliter mediante aliqua luce creata in mentem nostram derivata, sed lux divina menti nostrae active imprimens derelinquit in ea passivam impressionem qua elicitur actus intelligendi."{3} Roger Bacon differs in no way from this. And Marston alleges, in support of his thesis, this Augustinian position of which the Averroïsts also (339) were making great capital: the identity of the Divine light which enlightens every intelligence coming into this world, can alone explain the unanimous accord of the whole human race upon fundamental truths.{4} This light, with which God inundates us, is therefore not a gratuitous gift, a supernatural strengthening of the native powers of our understanding; it is simply the actual functioning of those powers, and is therefore a part of our nature.{5}

Yet the English philosopher does not want to abandon the scholastic traditions; he qualifies his statements and tries to attribute to the intelligence a certain intervention in the cognition of the eternal truths. Notably he makes it furnish the concepts that appear as extremes in certain judgments (apprehensio extremorum). Though it is true that the certitude of the judgment rests formaliter on the evidence shed upon the extremes by the Divine light, it is no less true that the soul is the inchoative principle of this certitude (inchoatio).{6} In this sense Marston speaks even of a twofold intellectus agens: the one, a part of our soul (pars animae), corresponds to a simple natural predisposition of the soul to know the truth: the other, separate from us, completes this inchoatio of nature.{7} Here indeed is a strange terminology. Though Marston appeals to the identity of God with the active intellect only in order to explain our cognition of truth in the rationes aeternae,{8} his illumination theory remains nevertheless very different from the scholastic theory of exemplarism. It goes farther than the special illumination theory of Henry of Ghent, for the latter maintains the causality of the active intellect as a part of the soul -- pars animae, -- while Marston suppresses the activity of the created cause in the production of the cognitional determinant.{9}

We are not acquainted with Marston's other theories, as his works are not yet published.

{1} According to a Quaestio disputata Fr. Rogeri Anglici, in the De Humanae Cognit. Rat., etc.

{2} "Adversarius dicit hanc conclusionem sic intelligendam quod omnia videmus in lumine quod est supra mentem, quia videlicet in lumine derivata a lumine quod est supra mentem. . . . Si non intenderet Augustinus plusquam isti dicunt, falleret et deficeret ejus argumentum" (ibid., pp. 203 sqq.).

{3} Ibid., p. 216, n. 1. "Firmiter teneo, unam esse lucem increatam, in qua omnia vera certitudinaliter visa conspicimus. Et hanc lucem credo quod Philosophus vocavit intellectum agentem. . . . Necesse est dicere, quod sit substantia separata per essentiam ab intellecto possibili, prout hoc sentiunt Alfarabius in libro de Intellectu et Intellecto, et Avicenna in multis locis, et alii expositores Philosophi quam plurimi" (p. 207).

{4} Ibid., p. 203.

{5} Ad 14am., p. 216.

{6} Pp. 211 and 215, ad 12am. et 13am.

{7} Intellectus enim agens, secundum quod dicitur ab acto illuminandi ipsum intellectum possibilem aliquo modo incomplete, dicitur esse pars animae, sicut perspicuitas naturalis in oculo. . . . Sed secundum quod intellectus agens dicitur ab actu illuminandi complete et principaliter, est substantia separata, Deus ipse" (ibid., p. 208. Cf. p. 226 ad 15am.).

{8} For cognitions "quae per tempora variantur," there is a lumen naturale, derived from the lux aeterna (p. 206).

{9} The Quaracchi editors observe that on the question of the rationes aeternae, Matthew of Aquasparta and Fr. Eustachius held a different view. Similarly, EHRLE thinks that the theories of Marston should he taken with caution (Das Studium der Handschriften, etc., p. 48).

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